I am reading Radical by David Platt again as a part of my morning reading and devotion time. I finished the first chapter this morning. In that chapter, he wrote a section about the cost of non-discipleship. I think it could accurately be called the cost of mere, dull existence.
Honestly, I don’t know how one could live with the monotony of working toward goals of a bigger house, a nicer car and career promotion, only to reach those goals and make new goals that involve a bigger house, a nicer car and a career promotion. I can’t imagine the disappointment of stepping into eternity and looking about to see that none of those accomplishments came with me after I died.
Living for God with eternity in mind is so much more exciting. For us it has meant living in different places in different parts of the world. When I am in the USA, some react to our lifestyle by expressing regret that we have lost out on so much. But we would have never have gained what we have by living merely for ourselves in the American rat race for bigger and better. And what we have isn’t measured materially. There is a certain happiness and adventure found simply in travel and being exposed to other cultures, but when God and His glory is the focus of doing it, the happiness becomes joy and the life of adventure becomes a life of meaning.
Not every follower of Jesus can or should do what we do. Doing what we do is not a requirement for eternal significance. As long as the glory of God is the focus of your life, you can find joy and meaning in whatever place God has placed you. And if you are a Christian and that joy and meaning is still missing, there are some things that you can do, and really, they aren’t very radical or at least shouldn’t be. One is be an active part a church that teaches the Bible as God’s Word and focuses on the needs of the world and not just the felt needs of the people nearby. A church that is truly global in its concern to spread God’s glory will be local in that concern as well. Second, truly get into God’s Word and learn how to read it and to study it to find God’s meaning behind it. There are many resources out there to help you learn to do that. Third, be a person of prayer, and disciplined prayer at that. If you pray only when the urge hits or ‘the Spirit leads’, you are likely not to have the urge and not to take time the hear the Spirit leading. And finally, read books such as Radical by David Platt, Desiring God by John Piper and Heaven by Randy Alcorn to help you see further down the road and to encourage you to live with God’s glory and eternity in mind.
Posted in Bible, Church, discipleship, God, gospel, Prayer, Religion, Spiritual Discipline, Spiritual Growth
Tagged Christian Living, church, David Platt, Discipleship, faith, John Piper, prayer, Randy Alcorn
This morning, I read Psalm 13. Written by David, it reflected a painfully trying time in his life. Some scholars believe that he wrote while fleeing from Saul. Others put it at the time of his flight from Absalom. No matter when he wrote, his words probably convey the way many believers have reacted to their circumstance.
“How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day?” (Psalm 13:2 HCSB)
It seems that David was imagining every conceivable worse outcome to his situation. He felt that God had forgotten him and that God was hiding from him. His prayer request was simple in such circumstances. “Consider me and answer me, Lord.”
That does not sound life much of a prayer. One can’t even get half a blog out that. No one, except those most extravagant with words, could write a book about it. It doesn’t seem like a power prayer, or something that will result in mountains being cast into the sea. But, it moved David’s heart, and that was what mattered, because when you ask God to think about you and believe that he does, all the reasons you have to fear and to worry seem smaller.
No longer feeling abandoned, David trusted in God to deliver him. He heart rejoiced because he had hope of deliverance. David sang because God had been generous to him.
What changed between verse one and the end of the short Psalm? Nothing changed in David’s outward circumstances. The only change came in his perspective. He saw God for who God was. Prayer does that.
Posted in Bible, discipleship, God, Old Testament Personalities, Prayer, Spiritual Discipline, Spiritual Growth, worship
Tagged Bible, David, Discipleship, faith, God, King David, prayer, Psalms
I exalt You
above all that is on the earth.
I exalt You
and proclaim your everlasting worth.
I read a tweet from someone at a college football game this weekend. It described a man who had spilled beer on the people in front of him and was staggering down the aisle. The tweet said, “He smelled of beer, sweat and lifelong bachelorhood.”
It is wrong to lump all single men in this generality, but the truth is that too many men, single and married, are failing to be men in the way the Bible describes. They are the type of irresponsible men that this tweet was about. Biblical manhood is not defined by our culture. One part of our culture defines men as either a weak, ignorant side-kicks to smart women or beer-drinking brawlers. Biblical manhood is very different. A Biblical is Christ-like. He is strong, but humble. He is gentle and meek, yet bold in standing against wrong. He is a servant seeking to meet the needs of others rather than demanding that others serve him.
E.M. Bounds in the last chapter of his book, Power through Prayer, described men who could set the church ablaze. Such men need six qualities according to Bounds.
- Capacity for faith
- The ability to pray
- The power of thorough consecration
- The ability of self littleness
- An absolute losing of one’s self in God’s glory
- An insatiable yearning and seeking after all the fullness of God
Focus my mind and my heart
to will one thing set above
to give Thee glory
to enjoy all that Thou art
to a dying world to show Thy love
to show Thy glory.
My LORD and my God
Be exalted in all the earth
May the nations rejoice
May all peoples hear and proclaim
the wonderful news of salvation.
Posted in Prayer
Last week, we took our sons to their new home for the next four years (at least). Both are entering their freshman years at a small Baptist university. However, their having a new home has left me confused about where my home is. Since we were married, my wife and I have lived in four different states and three different countries, four if you want to count the one where we unexpectedly had to spend about four or five months. Our children were born in three different countries, and the two that were born in the US were born in different states. I have lost count of how many apartments and houses we have lived in.
So, for me, I don’t consider any place to be home. I had come to think of home as the place where we were all together as a family. For example, if we were staying in a hotel somewhere and went out for dinner, I would say when we were done eating, “Let’s go home.” Home was wherever we were as long as we were together.
Now, we are not together. One-third of the family is away making a new home. So, do I have to change my definition of home? Actually, I think that I just need to radically correct it. God created us to be with Him. Jesus said that eternal life is knowing the Only True God and Jesus Christ, whom He sent. (John 17:3) We are at home when we are close to Him. In this life, many distractions interrupt our being with Him. Yet, we should pursue the practice of His presence, learning to pray without ceasing, talking with Him as we would a friend standing nearby. In the end, we will have perfect fellowship with God when we are in heaven. Heaven is our true home, but heaven is where we will live in complete fulfillment of the purpose for which God created us.
Yes, I still want to be together with my family. I would love for that to be in one place and not to be constantly moving. But my longing for home should help me to understand my deeper longing to be at home with the Lord and to practice His presence in this life so that I will be ready to stand in His presence in the one to come.
Many believers struggle with particular issues in their lives, or it could be that they excel in certain areas. Lots of men pray for become better fathers or husbands. Some people pray to become better at sharing their faith. However, Jesus did not divide up the Christian life into areas that we are to get right one by one. Rather, He said that the successful Christian life is one of abiding in Him. Jesus described it this way in John 15.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. [i]
The Christian life is not a compartmentalized step-by-step progression. We should take the Christian life as a whole and not subdivide it. Christ, Himself, is the whole. He is the center. By abiding in Him, all else comes into place. Prayer takes it rightful place. Obedience takes it rightful place. Love takes it rightful place. If we read further in John 15, we see that if we abide in Christ, we can expect to become fruitful as believers. However, we also can expect to suffer. As we abide in Christ and experience suffering, we must depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength.
To abide in Christ, we must submit to the Father pruning out those things that prevent our becoming fruitful such as sin or misplace priorities. We must be in the Word of God. As we learn the Word, we must shape our lives and our thinking to His standards. And, we must be people of prayer. Abiding in Christ is not complicated.
[i] English Standard Version
Be exalted, O God, in all the earth
Be exalted, O God, around our hearth
Be exalted, O God
above all else
Your glory shine through my life
like nothing else
Remove all dross and sin
and vestiges of old self
That I as the renewed
bring glory and honor to You
who are worthy of the sacrifice of myself.